Member Perspectives: Visiting the Old and New Burke Museums

Virginia TretheweyIn this blog post, Ginny Trethewey shares her experience of visiting the old and new Burke Museums during the morning of our Annual Summer Outing at the University of Washington. Ginny has been a member of WA Women’s Foundation since 2013 and has served on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee (Arts, Environment, and Education) as well as the Discovery Days/Intersect Planning and Impact Assessment Committees.

The Member Engagement Committee presented a richly rewarding UW Day for the 2018 Annual Summer Outing on June 19. The first stop was the Burke Museum of Natural History to see the warehouse being packed up and get a sneak peek of the new building close to completion.

Just imagine that you’re packing for a move and you have only 16 million separate, numbered, and fragile objects to pack, stack, and move safely. The distance may be short but the task is huge. Now imagine doing it with the public watching. 32 members and guests enjoyed that experience when we visited the “old” Burke Museum and toured the “new” Burke Museum. Dr. Julie Stein, Executive Director of the Burke Museum and our host and guide for the tour, seemed to know every specimen, every exhibit, and every challenge of the old Burke and every exciting design element of the new Burke.

Burke Museum tourWe learned that the ongoing work of the Burke is the research that uses existing specimens, as well as the discovery of new specimens, such as the T. Rex recently discovered in 2016 and being readied for display. In the old building, most of that work occurred behind walls and was hidden from public view. In the new building, Tom Kundig’s design brings the workrooms and laboratories to the forefront so that visitors, including thousands of school children, will watch discoveries unfold and exhibits take shape and tell stories.

Volunteers are essential to the Burke’s work; hundreds are assisting with the move and will work in supportive roles in the new Burke when it opens in the summer of 2019. We enjoyed a tantalizing tease of what is to come when the doors open for business next summer.

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